Monday, March 23, 2015

Is Love Greed?

Love, love, love,
Love is just greed
It's almost taken me
But now I can see
Love, love, love,
Love is just greed
A selfish little need
You follow or you lead
If we really love ourselves,
how do you love somebody else?

-- Love Is Greed, Passion Pit

Passion Pit is an annoying younger step-brother of my music collection. I wrote less kind words about Gossamer when it came out in 2012, but my appreciation for Passion Pit has… matured. In small doses of one or two songs, they can be downright palatable. (By contrast, more than two measures of Owl City stirs in me a deep nausea.)

Last week, this song played while I was randomly shuffling through my collection, and it caught my ear. The chorus is catchy enough, and then the lyrics sort of spit out at you, daring you to pay attention. And I found myself annoyed.

The last song I remember having such a defensive and frustrated initial reaction to was Admiral Fallow’s “Isn’t This World Enough?” While that song expresses their stance that notions of a deity are foolhardy, “Love is Greed” goes one step more brash and attacks the notion of love itself.

That chorus is enough to turn a lover into a fighter. The song has the unmitigated gall to question the very engine that makes the world go ‘round, according to almost everything in the Western canon of literature, music and marketing!

Having listened to the song several dozen more times since rediscovering it, and having engaged in many internal debates about the song’s message, I’ve come to a number of conclusions:

ONE: Anyone old enough and experienced enough knows that Love Isn’t Any Single Thing. It’s lots of things, many of them contradictory, some of them vague, a small few of them specific and concrete. As such, Love is not Greed, at least not in a singular exclusive sort of way. Love Is Not Merely Greed.

TWO: Anyone who has listened to enough music knows that Love, in all of its complex mystery and glory and horror, cannot be easily summarized in a single song, not even one of “Bohemian Rhapsody” length, not even by a lyrical poet like Bob Dylan or my favorite champion of grown-up wisdom, Lori McKenna. As such, Love Is Greed is one part of the elephant, and just about as much of the elephant as a single blind man can touch.

THREE: The song frustrates and makes me defensive because much of what it claims is, on some disturbing level, true, especially in how we often approach our notions of at least four of “the Six Greek Words for Love”: eros, ludus, philia, and philautia. Arguably even agape and pragma. Eros (lust) is often very selfish, but it was also supposedly feared by the Greeks because it was so closely associated with a loss of self-control. In that way, Eros is the heroin (not heroine) of Love and is arguably the kind of love most clearly in the target sites of this song.

FOUR: Any song that inspires me to go back and review all of the Greek words and meanings for love, that gets me thinking about how much of love is about selfishness and greed, that has me taking inventory of my own life and how my expressions of these various forms of love might be received and perceived, is a song that deserves to move higher on my playlist.

1 comment:

Bob said...

A perfectly good song, to be listened to without apology.